Discovering Texas History

Discovering Texas History

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The most comprehensive and up-to-date guide to Texas historiography of the past quarter-century, this volume of original essays will be an invaluable resource and definitive reference for teachers, students, and researchers of Texas history. Conceived as a follow-up to the award-winning A Guide to the History of Texas (1988), Discovering Texas History focuses on the major trends in the study of Texas history since 1990.

In two sections, arranged topically and chronologically, some of the most prominent authors in the field survey the major works and most significant interpretations in the historical literature. Topical essays take up historical themes ranging from Native Americans, Mexican Americans, African Americans, and women in Texas to European immigrant history; literature, the visual arts, and music in the state; and urban and military history. Chronological essays cover the full span of Texas historiography from the Spanish era through the Civil War, to the Progressive Era and World Wars I and II, and finally to the early twenty-first century.

Critical commentary on particular books and articles is the unifying purpose of these contributions, whose authors focus on analyzing and summarizing the subjects that have captured the attention of professional historians in recent years. Together the essays gathered here will constitute the standard reference on Texas historiography for years to come, guiding readers and researchers to future, ever deeper discoveries in the history of Texas.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780806147833
Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
Publication date: 09/09/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Bruce A. Glasrud, Professor Emeritus at California State University, East Bay, and retired Arts and Sciences Dean, Sul Ross State University, is the author or editor of more than thirty books.
Light Townsend Cummins is Bryan Professor of History at Austin College and the author or editor of eleven books, including A Guide to the History of Texas.
Cary D. Wintz is Distinguished Professor of History at Texas Southern University and the author or editor of fifteen books, including Texas: The Lone Star State.

Read an Excerpt

Discovering Texas History

By Bruce A. Glasrud, Light Townsend Cummins, Cary D. Wintz


Copyright © 2004 University of Oklahoma Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8061-4783-3


Native Americans

Matthew M. Babcock

According to a scholar writing in the late 1980s, "Texas Indian Historiography has dealt too exclusively with military campaigns and too little with tribal histories and ethnohistorical studies." The same could hardly be said today. Over the past two decades scholars in multiple disciplines have produced tribal histories of every major Native American tribe in Texas and cutting-edge ethnohistorical studies. Archaeologists and anthropologists have simultaneously been uncovering the rich precontact history of indigenous groups in the region. By placing Indians at the center rather than on the margins of Texas history and adopting hemispheric and global perspectives in their work, scholars have both been influenced by and contributed to larger trends in the "new Indian history" as well as borderlands, colonial, Latin American, world, and environmental history. This essay examines scholarship on Texas Indians written since 1988 from Native and Euro-American perspectives. It includes works treating multiple Native groups, tribal histories, and biographies of individual chiefs.

David La Vere's Texas Indians should be the starting point for anyone interested in conducting Indian-centered research on Texas in any era. Superseding anthropologist William W. Newcomb's classic Indians of Texas, La Vere's comprehensive interdisciplinary study traces the cultural history of Texas Indians and their relations with outsiders from twelve thousand years ago to the present from a Native perspective. He defines Texas Indians broadly to include immigrants such as Cherokees, Choctaws, and Alabama-Coushattas from the Southeast but also emigrants whom Anglo-Texans pushed into Oklahoma in the late nineteenth century, whose lives deserve much further study. The tribal overviews in the Southwest, Plains, and Southeast volumes of the Smithsonian Institution's Handbook of North American Indians are also excellent starting points for conducting research on Texas archaeology, pre-Columbian history, and tribal history, and the notes serve as useful guides to the most important anthropological and ethnohistorical literature on each Native group.

Researchers interested in viewing Texas Indians from a European perspective should consult sociologist Thomas D. Hall's sweeping Social Change in the Southwest, 1350–1880, the first book-length application of world-system theory to the Southwest. Hall argues that imperial Spain, as a core power, tried to make southwestern Native cultures, including Apaches and Comanches, dependent by integrating their production processes into the world market, or "incorporating" them; however, in contrast to most core nation-states, the Spanish failed to garner a net profit from the peripheral area of the Greater Southwest. Although Hall fails to consider the fact that powerful Native peoples living on the peripheries of European empires could qualify as core powers themselves, his book is important because it reminds scholars to consider global economic push-and-pull factors when examining regional processes of social change on frontiers and borderlands. Randolph B. Campbell's well-conceived one-volume textbook Gone to Texas: A History of the Lone Star State, though written primarily from a Euro-American perspective, still offers a balanced assessment of Texas Indians from precontact through the late nineteenth century.

One of the most important trends in Texas historiography in the past twenty years has been the extension of history back to the arrival of the first Paleo-indians in the region rather than to the European arrival of Cabeza de Vaca or the Anglo-American arrival of Stephen F. Austin. Important archaeological studies of Texas's precontact era include Susan C. Vehik and Timothy G. Baugh's "Cultural Continuity and Discontinuity in the Southern Prairies and Cross Timbers," Donny L. Hamilton's Prehistory of the Hustler Hills, and Timothy K. Perttula's collection of essays in The Prehistoric Archaeology of Texas. Archaeologist Noel D. Justice's typological research of chipped-stone projectile points in Stone Age Spear and Arrow Points of the Southwestern United States and historian William B. Carter's well-written synthesis of indigenous precontact history in Indian Alliances and the Spanish in the Southwest, 750–1750 serve as important resources for researchers of the trans-Pecos region of West Texas in multiple disciplines.

Since the late 1990s, ethnohistorians have been completely rewriting Texas's colonial history from the perspectives of its Native inhabitants. Gary Clayton Anderson's Indian Southwest, 1580–1830 offers a radical reconceptualization of Southern Plains Native and European exchange networks that is critical for understanding how Texas Indians adapted to European colonization. Despite a scathing, inaccurate attack on borderlands historiography in his introduction and a reluctance to examine Apache and Comanche raiding south of the Rio Grande, Anderson breaks new ground in this work by demonstrating that Spanish colonization not only altered and destroyed many Native societies but also opened new opportunities for commerce and economic development for Indians and Europeans alike. Employing the anthropological theory of ethnogenesis, or cultural reinvention, Anderson demonstrates that Jumanos, Coahuiltecans, Apaches, Caddos, Wichitas, and Comanches all successfully adapted to European encroachment and environmental stress through such methods as incorporating remnant bands and captives, consolidating villages, forging new alliances, and diversifying their trade goods. According to Anderson, then, mobile Native societies were not just central players in the region but were collectively more economically powerful than Europeans, Mexicans, and Americans, retaining control of the horse, mule, and buffalo trade and the entire greater Southwest exchange-based political economy for two hundred and fifty years until the opening of the Santa Fe trade in 1830.

Several other authors have followed Anderson's lead by assessing how multiple Native groups negotiated European conquest in colonial Texas. In The Native Americans of the Texas Edwards Plateau, archaeologist Maria F. Wade demonstrates through careful archaeological, Spanish archival, ethnohistorical, and environmental research that Native peoples east of the Pecos River, especially Lipan Apaches, not only withstood but successfully challenged Spanish political authority and social control in the region. Expanding on earlier research performed by T. N. Campbell, she also greatly improves scholarly understanding of the diversity of Native cultures and biodiversity of the Edwards Plateau region, including the shifting range of the bison from the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries. Relying on world-system theory, social history, and regional analysis, anthropologist Martha McCollough's Three Nations, One Place similarly describes nomadic Comanches and sedentary Hasinais evading Spanish efforts to control them economically and politically by using political alliances, military power, and mobility to assert control over the Southern Plains horse and gun trade. Because of the departure of the French in 1763 and the growing power of the Comanches, however, McCollough argues that the Hasinais, devastated by disease, found themselves cut out of both parts of the trade. Finally, in her award-winning Peace Came in the Form of a Woman, historian Juliana Barr maintains that Texas Indians' gendered notions of kinship governed their political, social, and economic relationships with Europeans along the eighteenth-century Texas-Louisiana frontier. According to Barr, this means that Texas Indians, including Apaches, Comanches, Caddos, and Wichitas—not Spanish or French colonists—controlled the region.

Authors seeking a more balanced perspective on Indian-European colonial relations in Texas from a European perspective should consult the classic works of David J. Weber and Donald E. Chipman. Weber's impressive Spanish Frontier in North America is the most evenhanded and comprehensive synthesis of the history of Spain's North American frontier from Florida to California written to date. Drawing from traditional Spanish archival sources as well as more recent social, economic, and cultural history of the United States and Latin America, Weber views this region's history as a series of interrelated, multilayered cultural conflicts, exchanges, and transformations between Spaniards, Indians, and Europeans. Putting the ghost of Frederick Jackson Turner to rest, Weber argues that Spain's North American frontiers, just as other frontiers, must be understood as zones of cultural interaction that experienced constant processes of expansion and contraction. In other words, Spaniards, Native Americans, and other European powers affected and were affected by each another. Weber sees contention occurring on two levels on the frontier. People within each frontier society struggle internally for power while engaging in larger patterns of intercultural conflict and exchange. The result is cultural transformation, which in this case was a hybridized Hispanic culture and society consisting of Iberian and Indian elements. Weber concludes that it was not an even synthesis, however. Spain's "technological, economic, and political strength" enabled "the core of Hispanic frontier culture and society" to remain "recognizably Hispanic and clearly intact."

Two other impressive syntheses of Spanish-Indian relations stand out for their perspectives on Texas Indians. Donald E. Chipman and Harriett Denise Joseph's recently revised Spanish Texas, 1519–1821 is the best single-volume synthesis of Texas's colonial history written to date. Originally written from a Spanish imperial perspective, Chipman and Joseph's revised narrative is even more useful for ethnohistorians because it incorporates the past twenty years of secondary scholarship on Texas Indian peoples, highlighting their ability to adapt to European colonization and act independently. In Bárbaros, David J. Weber again views Texas Indians from a Spanish imperial perspective. Encompassing Spain's entire American empire, the book breaks new ground by placing Native responses to Spanish Indian policy in a comparative hemispheric context and demonstrating that unincorporated Indians on Spanish American frontiers not only retained power over their own lives but still controlled more than half of the land mass in the Americas in the mid-1700s.

Several other recent works treating the Spanish colonial era are potentially useful to ethnohistorians in Texas. Based on Spanish archival sources, Mark Santiago's Red Captain: The Life of Hugo O'Conor is a solid source on Spanish-Apache warfare in the 1770s. Jack Jackson's Imaginary Kingdom: Texas as Seen by the Rivera and Rubí Expeditions, 1727 and 1767 consists of English translations of Spanish documents, which contain information on the ethnology of Texas Indians and Spanish Indian policy in these periods, in particular the Marqués de Rubí's recommendation to wage a war of extermination on Lipan Apaches. The Presidio and Militia on the Northern Frontier of New Spain, Vol. 2, Part II: The Central Texas Corridor and the Texas Corridor, 1700–1765, edited by Diana Hadley, Thomas H. Naylor, and Mardith K. Shuetz-Miller, offers useful primary source information on mission Indians in Texas from La Bahía to San Sabá and on Lipan and Mescalero Apache raids on Texas ranchos and other provincial settlements bordering the desolate Bolsón de Mapimí, which the Indians used as a region of refuge between offensives. On Spanish missions in Texas, see Archival Investigations for Mission Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de los Ais, by Adán Benavides, Jr., and Robert Jackson's From Savages to Subjects. On Apache Indian reservations along the Spanish-Apache frontier, see Matthew Babcock's "Rethinking the Establecimientos." On Indian slavery in colonial Texas, see Juliana Barr's "A Spectrum of Indian Bondage in Spanish Texas" and James F. Brooks's "'We Betray Our Own Nation': Indian Slavery and Multiethnic Communities in the Southwest Borderlands." For the Spanish extradition of Apaches from the Apachería, including parts of what is now Texas, to interior Mexico and Cuba, see Mark Santiago's Jar of Severed Hands.

Far fewer works of the past twenty years treat multiple Texas Indian groups in the nineteenth century than in the colonial era. Since the early 1990s, scholars have deepened our understanding of the reasons behind the decline of the bison and the American Indians' own role in it. In "Bison Ecology and Bison Diplomacy," for example, environmental historian Dan Flores maintains that environmental change and increasing pressure to trade bison robes and horses to Euro-American traders prevented Southern Plains tribes from achieving a "dynamic, ecological equilibrium" with bison herds in the early nineteenth century. Some of these same scholars have assessed the ecological and economic impact of horses on equestrian groups and the political economy of the Southern Plains. Two ethnohistorians have assessed the decline of Texas Indians in the nineteenth century. Serving as a worthy sequel to historian Elizabeth A. H. John's classic synthesis of European-Indian relations in the colonial Southwest, Storms Brewed in Other Men's Worlds, F. Todd Smith's From Dominance to Disappearance: The Indians of Texas and the Near Southwest, 1786–1859 thoroughly describes the shifting power relations between Texas Indian tribes and Euro-Americans from the late Spanish period, when Comanches, Caddos, and Wichitas dominated the region, to the 1850s, when the U.S. government unsuccessfully tried to relocate Texas Indians reservations in the state. Although largely a heart-wrenching tale of Native decline, Smith's book at the same time shows how Indians negotiated and adapted to military conquest, exile, and forced acculturation in Texas and the Indian Territory. In The Conquest of Texas, Gary Clayton Anderson challenges long-standing romanticized myths of Anglo-Texan exceptionalism by arguing that state authorities pursued a policy akin to ethnic cleansing toward Indians and Tejanos, which Texas Rangers first implemented in the 1830s and the U.S. Army employed again in the 1860s. Anderson defines the twentieth-century European term "ethnic cleansing" as "the forced removal of certain culturally identified groups from their lands," which he distinguishes from genocide or "the intentional killing of nearly all of a racial, religious, or cultural group" and anachronistically applies to the middle nineteenth century. In contrast, historian Brian DeLay's War of a Thousand Deserts challenges the prevalent notion that indigenous power declined in Texas and across the continent after 1815 by convincingly demonstrating that Comanches, Kiowas, Apaches, and Navajos influenced the course and outcome of the U.S.-Mexico War and shaped the contest for North America through the mid-nineteenth century.

Anthropologists and ethnohistorians have produced numerous tribal histories over the past two decades that treat a wider range of Texas Indian groups than ever before. Although most scholars quickly recognize mobile Comanches and Apaches as powerful tribes in Texas, how many are aware of the extent of Caddo political and economic dominance or the sheer number of tribes, from the Cherokees to the Black Seminoles, who emigrated to East and South Texas from the Southeast in the early nineteenth century? Linguistic anthropologist Nancy Parrot Hickerson's The Jumanos: Hunters and Traders of the South Plains is the first-book length study of this elusive group, whose origins and cultural identity have been highly contested by scholars for decades. According to Hickerson, the Jumanos were a distinctive tribe of Tanoan speakers (rather than Uto-Aztecans) located south and east of the Rio Grande. Relying on primary sources, she persuasively argues that they controlled the political economy of the Southern Plains before the ascendancy of the Apaches in the late 1600s; however, she needs more evidence to support her claim that the Kiowas descended directly from one group of Jumanos.

Two excellent interdisciplinary works on the Karankawas have also helped to revive this long-misunderstood tribe's reputation. In The Karankawa Indians of Texas, archaeologist Robert A. Ricklis combines archaeological and ethnohistorical data to provide the first modern narrative history of the Karankawas from pre-Columbian times to their cultural extinction in the nineteenth century. Stressing their ability to adapt to their environment and Hispanic encroachment, Ricklis rescues this Gulf Coast tribe from timeworn Eurocentric depictions as primitive cannibalistic savages. Rather than rely solely on violence, the Karankawas instead incorporated Spanish missions into their regional subsistence strategy and peacefully coexisted with Euro-Americans until the arrival of Anglo-Americans in the early nineteenth century. In The Conquest of the Karankawas and the Tonkawas, sociologist Kelly F. Himmel draws on world-system theory and internal colonialism to compare Karankawa and Tonkawa efforts to negotiate conquest and incorporation into the regional and global political economy of Mexico, Texas, and the United States. Filling an important void in nineteenth-century Texas historiography, Himmel explains in vivid detail how Anglo-Americans exterminated the Karankawas by 1859 and drove the few remaining Tonkawas out of Texas to the Indian Territory.


Excerpted from Discovering Texas History by Bruce A. Glasrud, Light Townsend Cummins, Cary D. Wintz. Copyright © 2004 University of Oklahoma Press. Excerpted by permission of UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA PRESS.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents


Texas History Considered,
Light Townsend Cummins, Bruce A. Glasrud, and Cary D. Wintz,
Part I. Topical Essays,
1. Native Americans Matthew M. Babcock,
2. Mexican Americans Arnoldo De León,
3. African Americans Alwyn Barr,
4. Texas Women Rebecca Sharpless,
5. European Immigrant History in the Nineteenth Century James C. Kearney,
6. Literature, the Visual Arts, and Music in Texas Victoria H. Cummins and Light Townsend Cummins,
7. Texas Urban History Richard B. Wright,
8. Texas Military History Richard B. McCaslin,
Part II. Chronological Essays,
9. Spanish, Mexican, and Republican Texas to 1845 F. Todd Smith,
10. Antebellum Texas, 1846–1860 Randolph B. Campbell,
11. Civil War and Reconstruction in Texas, 1861–1874 Carl H. Moneyhon,
12. Reformers, Populists, and Progressives, 1875–1915 Jessica Brannon-Wranosky,
13. World War I through World War II Patrick Cox,
14. Modernizing Texas, 1945–1980 Sean P. Cunningham,
15. Recent Texas, 1981 to the Present Bruce A. Glasrud, Light Townsend Cummins, and Cary D. Wintz,
List of Contributors,
Index of Authors,
Index of Titles,

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